Back in March, The Jerusalem Report published a story, In Search of Meaning, which questioned the need for the existence of The Jewish Agency. Here is a response from Moshe Vigdor, JAFI’s Director General.
Nonetheless, in recent decades, the Agency and its image have been under attack. Clearly, some of those who speak against JAFI use their criticism as a platform to advance their own agendas. But we have also heard the voices of those who question the necessity for the Jewish Agency’s continued existence, and the essence of its objectives. Criticisms have been published in the press, including in this newspaper, portraying the Agency as an organization that may no longer have a central role to play for Israel and world Jewry.
Indeed, we at the Jewish Agency have had our mishaps and failings over the years, and as part of an ongoing effort to improve its operation, we have introduced modern management, and financial practices that are beyond reproach.
But to the more fundamental issue of relevance, the characteristic that makes the Jewish Agency unique is its ability and vision to serve as what I would call a global Jewish bridge. Over the years, it has become a powerful tool for expressing and reinforcing the connection between the Jewish people residing in Israel and their brethren situated throughout the world.
From a philanthropic perspective, JAFI is the single largest recipient of funds from the Jewish federations in the United States, which contribute via the United Jewish Communities; Jewish communities throughout the rest of the world, who donate via Keren Hayesod; and additional donors from other communities. Together, these philanthropic contributions regularly exceed a quarter of a billion dollars annually.
The Jewish Agency exists today as the center for Jewish people globally in expressing and realizing their connection to Israel. Jews of all denominations and religious practice, of varied political and philosophical worldviews – all of them find a voice within our organization. Through the JAFI, Jewish communities worldwide have established partnerships with towns and local councils across Israel. And nearly 10,000 Jewish young adults from all over the world will come to Israel this year for semester or year-long study, or volunteer or internship programs. Through this work and much more, the Jewish Agency has the unique capacity to serve as a bridge connecting all those Jewish communities for whom the State of Israel stands is central.
No other organization can claim to have its heart and soul in Israel and its feet throughout the world, wherever Jews reside. No other organization is committed to building and rebuilding its agenda based on the complex, changing needs of Jews in Israel and in over 250 locations worldwide.